Meet ‘James Madison’ at Constitution Day event

The Founding Fathers are coming to Little Washington to celebrate Constitution Day.

Well, not the real Founding Fathers, of course, but some reasonable facsimiles of the Revolutionary Era patriots who founded this nation and drew up the blueprint for its government in the Constitution of the United States. In commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, the Friends of Liberty and the Committee for the Republic are cosponsoring a Constitution Day Celebration at the Town Hall in Washington on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 16.

Among the colonial-era reenactors at the Sept. 16 Constitution Day Celebration are the Culpeper Minute Men. Photo by Lon Lacey.
Among the colonial-era reenactors at the Sept. 16 Constitution Day Celebration are the Culpeper Minute Men. Photo by Lon Lacey.

The free event, which is open to the public, will feature an impressive delegation of historical impersonators playing the roles of such figures as James Madison, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine, all in colonial-era costume. A real descendant of Benjamin Franklin, Mark Skousen of Philadelphia, will be on hand to portray his famous ancestor. In addition, the Culpeper Minute Men chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will provide a uniformed color guard and fife musicians to provide additional flavor of the colonial period.

Bruce Fein, an attorney from Washington, D.C., who portrays James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution and the third president of the United States, will be the featured speaker. He will speak as Madison, presenting “Madison’s Address on the 225th Anniversary of the Constitution.”

Fein, who has made the study of Madison’s life and writings his special interest, is an attorney and expert on the Constitution who has held several high-level federal positions and frequently testifies before Congress. The men playing the roles of the Founding Fathers are members of the Committee for the Republic, a Washington, D.C., group that defends and promotes Constitutional government.. They include Rappahannock County resident John Henry of Flint Hill, who portrays Thomas Paine. The “Founding Fathers” will ask questions of Madison after his address and be available to respond to questions from the citizen audience.

The Constitution was signed in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787, after an arduous summer-long convention that forged a governing document that has guided the operation of America’s government for 225 years. Last May, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring Sept. 17 as Constitution Day in the county and recommending that its schools, civic groups and citizens commemorate the historic day. The Friends of Liberty event is a response to that call.

Constitution Day was established by Federal law in 2004. It is also called Citizenship Day. The Federal law mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. In May 2005, the federal Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and declared that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds.

Constitution Day is an opportunity for citizens to celebrate a national birthday party for our nation. Parents are invited to bring school-age children to the event for its educational value, and all citizens are invited to take this opportunity to reflect on the blessings of liberty that are secured by the Constitution, the bedrock upon which this nation stands.

The Constitution Day Celebration starts at 1:30 p.m. with music and reenactors on the grounds outside Town Hall, weather permitting. The program will begin at 2 p.m. Though the program is open to the public without charge, space in the Town Hall is limited, so reservations are recommended. To reserve, contact Barbara Cioffi at 540-937-2504 or bcioffi@hughes.net.

About James P. Gannon 21 Articles

James P. Gannon is a retired journalist who lives near Flint Hill. In his newspaper career, he served as a reporter and bureau chief at The Wall Street Journal, as Editor of The Des Moines Register in Iowa, and as Washington Bureau Chief for the Detroit news and a columnist for the Gannett newspapers.